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Warehouse Safety: Biggest Concerns for EHS Safety Managers

Warehouse with Forklifts

Ready for some daunting statistics? One out of every six workplace deaths are forklift related.  How can that be?  Well, considering that 90% of forklifts will be involved in some type of accident during their useful life and the fact that over 11% of the forklifts in the U.S. will be involved in an accident each year, the death toll actually makes sense.  Add in the statistic that 80% of forklift accidents involve a pedestrian, and now it makes perfect sense.  Major forklift accidents are a major cause for concern in any warehouse, and EHS safety managers are at the forefront of it all.  So, with all of these accidents occurring every year, what are the biggest concerns for EHS Managers and what can they do to ensure the highest level of safety in their facilities?

Provided by Claitec, here are some of the most common concerns and solutions for those in the industry:

1) How to differentiate pedestrian from forklift circulation areas?  This is a big one.  Circulation areas must be clearly separated and differentiated for forklifts and pedestrians alike.  Before entering the facility, pedestrians should be briefed on all areas where they can walk safely.  The easiest way to achieve this is by painting the floors on the warehouse, and by implementing pedestrian safety barriers.

2) What's the best way to properly signal intersections?  Intersections tend to be one of the most dangerous areas of a warehouse, and one of the most effective methods for increasing safety is installing doorways that warn pedestrians to the fact that they're about to enter an area with frequent forklift circulation.  To make the solution even safer, one could make the doorways automatic, meaning that if a forklift were to cross into an intersection, the doors would lock the pedestrian out of the intersection until the forklift has cleared the area.  The use of a light indicator signal can also be highly effective in this situation.

3) What to do about collection points of finished and raw materials?  Since collection points are known to be high risk areas, the best thing that can be done is to simply consolidate and minimize the number of collection points.  Although effective, some companies simply don't have the space to reduce; and, in those cases, certain precautions must be taken.  Those include using manual trucks for those stretches of the warehouse, and increasing the training for workers so they know exactly how to access those points and avoid the forklift intersections.

Even though these tips can help to decrease accidents, many EHS safety managers will also ask about additional safety products and that's where the Claitec suite of tools can solve the daunting issue, and increase safety precautions to maximum capacity.  For example, the LSA (Low Speed Area) solution can actually override the forklift's operating system, forcing the vehicle down to a low speed that would prevent most accidents, and minimize the damages if an accident were to occur.  Similarly, the PAS (Pedestrian Alert System) solution is ideal for people whose job includes circulating the warehouse.  The PAS is a very popular tool amongst safety managers. 

To summarize, we support the Claitec team in recommending the following protocols for increased safety: 

  • Plan carefully for all routes for machines and people
  • Physically separate pedestrians and forklift machines when possible
  • Signal pedestrians’ paths appropriately
  • Automate intersections and use bright signs, traffic lights or lock doors.
  • Signal low visibility areas actively
  • Protect pedestrians with PAS proximity systems
  • Ensure the speed of forklifts is low in the areas of Pedestrian/Forklift interactivity

No matter what the warehouse is producing, safety should always remain the number one priority.  To learn more about the Claitec product line, or to get your warehouse fitted with solutions built to minimize occupational hazards, get in touch with our team of specialists today.


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